Wrestler of the Year: Sorrentino goes out with march to perfect season
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
March 30, 2014 04:00 AM | 2700 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joseph Sorrentino
<BR>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
Joseph Sorrentino
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
slideshow
CANTON — Joseph Sorrentino admitted to feeling chills as his hand was thrust into the air as a champion at the Class AAAAA state tournament.

The senior remembers running to his parents in the stands and saying the words for the first time.

“I did it. I am a state champion.”

That moment capped a stellar career for Sorrentino, who wrestled his final two seasons at 182 pounds and propelled to the top in a state packed with wrestling talent. He was the first state champion in Creekview wrestling history, and the first for the county since Etowah’s Jeremiah Lutz in 2011.

For his accomplishments this season, Sorrentino is the 2013-14 Cherokee Tribune Wrestler of the Year. It’s the second straight season he has taken home the honor.

As impressive as the state title was, Sorrentino may have accomplished something even more difficult by going an undefeated 55-0. More than half of his wins — 36 — were by pin, and he won every tournament he entered.

Simply put, Sorrentino never met his match.

“It’s great knowing that nobody that I faced could beat me,” he said.

That might be what makes the next part of Sorrentino’s story unbelievable.

He is giving up wrestling.

Minutes after wrapping up a photo shoot with the other members of the Tribune’s all-county team, Sorrentino’s coach, Wyatt Wilkie, presented his wrestler with a question.

“Is that your last time wearing a singlet?” said Wilkie, himself a former wrestler and a two-time state champion at Sequoyah.

The wrestler shrugged in affirmation before Wilkie continued by saying that while the college Sorrentino plans to attend — Georgia Tech — doesn’t have a NCAA wrestling program, it does have a club team.

Sorrentino didn’t seem excited by that idea, but admitted that it will be hard to give up both of the sports — football and wrestling — that he has played for long time.

“I just decided that I needed to focus on my academics,” said Sorrentino, who has a 4.0 grade-point average, ranks ninth in his class and intends on majoring in aerospace engineering. “I’m going to Georgia Tech in the fall, and I just want to get good grades and get a job.

Sorrentino did say, though, that it hit him while watching the NCAA wrestling championships recently that his career was over.

“I already miss it,” he said.

Sorrentino can take consolation in the fact that he went out on top. As a junior, he finished as a state runner-up, and he would have felt as though his career was incomplete if it were not for the state title.

“Winning a state title is a huge accomplishment after all these years of work,” he said. “Being a runner-up as a junior kind of gave me this determination to win it the next year, because I knew that I could do it after that. After winning, I just had this overwhelming feeling of pride and accomplishment and happiness and satisfaction.”

Sorrentino said it was the one time he could go against Wilkie’s advice to be happy but never satisfied.

“That was my moment where I felt satisfied,” he said.

Through wrestling, Sorrentino has learned that he can get through just about anything. He has also learned about being a part of a team, saying that he wouldn’t have had the season he did without his wrestling partner, Hunter Smith, and former Creekview coach Kevin Higgins — now the school’s athletic director — who challenged him in practice.

While Sorrentino won’t suit up for the Grizzlies again, Wilkie said his work at Creekview isn’t over.

“He’s our first state champion,” Wilkie said. “With that goes a plaque on the wall. Kids who never thought they could win a state title will be able to look up at that and see they can do it because he did it. They will know it is possible to win a state title because he did it first.”
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